The sitter was the son of Sir George Cornewall, a prosperous banker of Huguenot descent and M.P. for Herefordshire for 27 years, and his wife Catherine, daughter of Velters Cornewall, of Moccas, Herefordshire. His father took the name and arms of Cornewall on his marriage in 1771, and in 1775 set about building Moccas Court to the plans of Robert and James Adam. The sitter matriculated at Christ Church College, Oxford in 1792, and went on to serve as Colonel of the Herefordshire Militia. He married Jane, daughter of William Naper, of Loughcrew, County Meath in 1815 and succeeded to the baronetcy in 1819.